Fifth-year Beau Chene basketball coach Lorenzo Williams points to a set of milestones this season that reaffirms the positive direction of the program.
That began with the program’s first St. Landry Parish tournament championship, stopping three-time champion and Opelousas 64-58 in the final.
Beau Chene followed that a week later with a 3-1 performance in the competitive Northwest Holiday tournament, posting a trio of victories after a 50-49 first-round loss to Northside.
The Gators showed they are a serious contender for the District 4-4A championship with three straight wins over Opelousas, Washington-Marion and LaGrange.
Beau Chene (13-4, 3-0) looks to carry the momentum of a six-game win streak and fast start in league play into Friday’s home game with Rayne (9-10, 2-2) at 7:30 p.m.
“When you win, people tend to take things lightly, and we don’t want to take anyone lightly,” Williams said. “Everyone’s coming after us now. We have a target on our back.”
Which is what Williams prefers.
Beau Chene had won only one playoff game in the years before his arrival, and Williams, who played at Cecilia and Louisiana-Lafayette, has given the Gators program a makeover.
Last season Beau Chene finished 21-10 and fourth in 4-4A play, advancing to the Class 4A regional round for the third straight season after a 59-56 upset of No. 9 Tara.
With the return of 10 seniors, four of which start, Beau Chene seemed to embraced loftier expectations until a 1-2 finish in this year’s first tournament at Marksville served as the team’s first sign of adversity.
“That was a reality check for the guys,” Williams said. “We had high expectations, and I think the guys felt it was going to be easy with so many guys returning. After we lost those two games, we had a whole week of practice without playing.
“That changed our whole season and (they) came to a new mindset, they worked harder.It taught us about being able to finish games, and now that’s helping now.”
Since that inauspicious beginning, Beau Chene has resembled the team the coaching staff and players believed was realistic, reeling off 11 wins in its past 13 games.
Not only have the Gators taken control of the league race with two games left in the opening round but they’ve risen to No. 12 in the state’s most recent unofficial power ratings.
During the aforementioned stretch Beau Chene defeated tradition-rich Carroll of Monroe (64-52) and twice knocked off Opelousas by less than double figures each time.
Over a four-day span the Gators twice went to Lake Charles and overcame fourth-quarter deficits to defeat three-time defending 4-4A champion Washington-Marion (66-58) and LaGrange (61-56).
They’ve done so with a team longer on experience than size with a starting group ranging from 5-foot-7 to 6-2.
Senior point guard Denzel Austin, who scored 25 in his team’s win over Washington-Marion, averages 23 a game with 6-1 small forward Julian Tibbs averaging ing 18 and 6-1 center Jekavin Sevant adding 10 points.
Three-year starting off guard Detraven Guilbeau is regarded as the Gators leader with Ky Miller playing larger than his 5-7 listed height at power forward.
“If the kids stay positive, we can make a deep run in the playoffs,” said Williams, whose team faces Amite in Saturday’s Louisiana High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame game at Baton Rouge Community College at 1 p.m. “Our goal is to make it to the Top 28. Right now we’re trying to win district, and we’re taking it one game at a time.”